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Water Picks Up Odor From Plastic Pipes

The smell fades with time, study shows

THURSDAY, Aug. 23 (HealthDay News) -- New plastic water pipes in homes can affect drinking water's odor but not for long, a new study finds.

Plastic piping is increasingly being used instead of copper piping, and scientists are trying to evaluate how it might affect drinking water quality and odor.

In this study, researchers evaluated several types of plastic piping. A group of people described the odor of water after it had sat in the pipes for several days. Their descriptions ranged from "waxy plastic citrus" to "fruity plastic" and "burning plastic."

The odors are not long-lasting, according to researcher Andrea Dietrich, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va.

Dietrich's team were to present the findings Thursday at the American Chemical Society's national meeting in Boston.

"We find that after about two months, most of the odors and water quality effects have gone to background," Dietrich said in a prepared statement.

Water usage determines just how quickly this happens. The greater the household water usage, the sooner the odors decrease, she said.

The water from the pipes was also chemically analyzed for metals, organics and basic water quality. Dietrich said her group is still investigating whether organic compounds that leach from plastic pipes cause any health effects.

More information

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has more about drinking water.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Chemical Society, news release, Aug. 23, 2007

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